Bayern to send another message
Bayern Munich v RB Leipzig
Saturday 05 February, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports Football and Betfair Live Video
Last season, Julian Nagelsmann’s chief concern was trying to help RB Leipzig to break Bayern Munich’s stranglehold on the coveted meisterschale. Now the uber-talented tactician is pushing hard in the opposite direction, as the Bavarian giants look to secure an unprecedented tenth straight Bundesliga title. Going into this weekend, Bayern are six points clear of closest challengers Borussia Dortmund.
I’ll be the first to admit that I felt Leipzig were a value bet in the title race. They have a deep squad with lots of options, and I believed that prolific centre-forward Andre Silva was the missing piece of their puzzle. However, Nagelsmann’s departure left a gaping hole in the coaching department, and his replacement Jesse Marsch didn’t measure up as his replacement.
Nagelsmann had taken the vertical and fast-paced Red Bull approach and had evolved it, teaching his players to play with more variety, and showing them they could keep possession and be effective. Marsch’s desire to return to the Red Bull basics didn’t chime with what his players wanted, and coaches rarely win that type of battle.
Marsch has been replaced by former Schalke boss Domenico Tedesco, another coaching wunderkind who was actually in Nagelsmann’s coaching class. The 36-year-old’s tactical tweaks have revitalised Silva, and have delivered five wins across seven competitive matches. Leipzig have scored at least twice in five of those games.
Bayern crushed Leipzig 4-1 in the reverse fixture, they hammered Bayer Leverkusen 5-1 at the BayArena and they have already won twice at Borussia Dortmund (once in the league and once in the Supercup). They thrive on these high-pressure occasions, and despite the absence of Leon Goretzka and Alphonso Davies, Bayern should have enough firepower to take three points. However, I suspect Leipzig will score along the way, as Bayern have managed just seven clean sheets in 20 Bundesliga matches.
I’ll back Bayern to win and both teams to score here at 2.35/4 on the Sportsbook.
Kruse’s class can boost ailing Wolves
Wolfsburg v Greuther Furth
Sunday 06 February, 16:30
Live on Betfair Live Video
After qualifying for the Champions League last season, Wolfsburg have made a series of costly missteps. The failure of Sport CEO Jörg Schmadtke to find a way to work with coach Oliver Glasner cost him the organisation’s true star, and the decision to replace him with the hapless Mark van Bommel was a disastrous one. The Dutchman’s replacement Florian Kohfeldt has been playing catch-up, and has struggled to turn the tanker around, with Die Wölfe having tumbled out of Europe and lost seven of their last eight league games.
However, it could be an old colleague of Kohfeldt’s who sparks a revival. Max Kruse worked well with Kohfeldt at Werder Bremen, and it was the mercurial forward’s departure that truly started the decline of the northern giants. Kruse has inspired Union Berlin for the last 18 months, helping them qualify for Europe for the first time in two decades, and aiding them as they rose into the Champions League spots this season. Kruse’s return to the Volkswagen Arena is surely a financial decision (German tabloids report he has more than doubled his salary), but regardless of the motivation, he remains an outstanding performer at this level. VFL are desperate for some creativity and guile, and he’ll provide it.
Greuther Furth are bottom of the table, but have at least improved in recent games. They drew three top-flight games in a row before beating Mainz just before the international break, but the Clover Leaves are still nine points behind third-bottom Augsburg, and they have the worst attacking and defensive records in the division. They have lost all but one of their away games in the top flight this term.
I think Wolfsburg produced an encouraging display in defeat to Leipzig last time out, and despite the loss of Wout Weghorst to Burnley, a shake-up in attack could actually give them the lift they need. Danish attacker Jonas Wind has arrived from Copenhagen with a glowing reputation, and I’ll back Wolfsburg to get back on track.
You could back Wolfsburg to win and Under 4.5 on the Bet Builder at 1.84/5, but I’ll back the hosts -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at 2.021/1. All but one of Furth’s away defeats this term have been by a multiple-goal margin.